Thank you to Young Jane Young (read the synopsis here) for getting me so engrossed that I didn’t realize I’d power-walked through an entire hour on the treadmill without even blinking! Gabrielle Zevin (also wrote The Storied Life of AJ Fikry) is back with a story about a young lady who gets caught up with the congressman she is interning under (think Monica Lewinsky/Bill Clinton), and the repercussions that follow that steamy affair. Interestingly, Zevin doesn’t spend much time on the man of the story; instead, she tells the tale through the eyes of the women themselves – Aviva/Jane; her mother, Rachel; her daughter, Ruby; and Embeth, the wife of the congressman.
I loved how this book emphasized the misogynistic culture that’s so prevalent right now. Men and women are viewed completely different when it’s found out that they’re involved in a sex scandal. In Young Jane Young, the congressman’s life carries on as normal, yet Aviva/Jane has no choice but to start completely over in a new area of the country. People won’t hire her or give her a chance once they realize who she is. I think this definitely parallels much of what we know about the entire Monica Lewinsky/Bill Clinton scandal.
I liked the characters in this story. Jane was strong, resilient, and smart. She started her own company when it became clear people weren’t interested in hiring someone tied to such a well-known scandal. She was a wonderful role model for her daughter – raising her to be strong-willed and independent, too. Her mother, Rachel, seemed to be a little slightly in the beginning and made some questionable choices given the circumstances, but by the end of the novel, she’d totally redeemed herself.
The only time I really caught myself annoyed with the story is when Ruby runs away. It didn’t feel like a realistic addition to the story; however, I understand that Zevin needed an event to bring Aviva/Jane and her mother full circle. This accomplished that goal.
Overall, this was a fun, quick read that reinvents the details of an infamous sex scandal many of us grew up with. It emphasized the power, strength, independence, and resiliency of women. It teaches us to own our mistakes and the lessons they provide – then to make ourselves better because of the experience.
This book will be published on August 22, 2017 – mark your calendars!